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‘Celtic music’ is the collective name given to the native folk music of the Celtic nations. The seven Celtic nations of Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, Cornwall, Wales, Galicia and the Isle of Man share a common tradition of folk music and songs. Each musical tradition includes lively dance tunes, melancholic airs, and songs both serious and humorous. Traditional Celtic songs often have poetic lyrical qualities, transfixing emotional beauty and verbal forthrightness. The worldwide popularity of Celtic music has blossomed over the last few decades and it has found a place as a worldwide musical language. Behind its popularity lies a tradition of music and songs passed down through centuries and generations.

The Gaelic song tradition is once both traditional and contemporary. It is traditional inasmuch as the song repertoire has passed down through several centuries. Yet the song tradition is constantly revitalizing itself as a reflection of a living language and culture in the face of regular threats of extinction.

This month we’ll explore a selection of these recordings from the Naxos World and ARC labels – these recordings can provide a snapshot of the living reality of Celtic musical traditions in today’s world. These label catalogues feature music from across Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, Asturias (northern Spain), Wales and Galicia in a variety of sung and instrumental pieces.

Featured release
CELTIC Fiona Mackenzie / Brian Ó hEadhra: TUATH - Songs of the Northlands
Brian Ó hEadhra & Fiona Mackenzie
TUATH: Songs of the Northlands

TUATH is a musical and cultural exploration of the connections between the Gaels and their nearest neighbours. This includes songs written especially for the album, as well as traditional and contemporary songs sung in Danish, Norwegian, Irish Gaelic and Galician. Featuring ancient and modern texts, the songs speak to our past, present and future with music ranging from the simple voice to expansive arrangements and exquisite sound design. Brian & Fiona’s debut album, TÌR: Highland Life & Lore, was nominated for Album of the Year at the 2018 International Folk Music Awards. Brian was also nominated for Gaelic Singer of the Year at the Scots Trad Music Awards 2019.

‘Two of the finest voices in Gaelic singing today.’ – Celtic Music Radio


When you talk about Scottish music, many people may immediately think of the great Highland bagpipe; a lone piper playing a haunting lament or a full military regiment blasting out a rousing march. While this is an undeniably proud tradition and perhaps the country’s most representative image worldwide, Scotland also boasts an incredibly rich folk music tradition. Instruments such as the harp (clàrsach) and fiddle, as well as songs and ballads sung in English and Gaelic, are central to the Scottish identity. There is a wide variety of music available in the ARC catalogue, from the mighty bagpipe to ballads and waulking songs.


Scottish band Soar Patrol has been variously termed ‘Tribal Rock’ and ‘The Motörhead of Folk’ (that one by Lemmy himself). But there’s a term that perhaps more closely describes the sound they’ve worked hard to purvey for many years: Scottish Celtic Rock. Pounding drums underpin incendiary guitar and untamed pipes; Saor Patrol travel the world, leaving Scotland ringing in the ears of legions of fans: ‘Alba gu Bràth!’. Scotland Forever.



Traditional Irish music is said to have originated with the Celts when they settled on the land after travelling from Europe around 500BC. They brought with them many influences of the east; one possible origin for the most famous of Celtic instruments – the harp – is that it came from Egypt and was used to create music for those of higher rank. Over time, with the introduction of the fiddle, flute, tin whistle and other instruments, the music of Ireland developed and was passed through generations of families and locals. The songs were handed down aurally, learning by ear; still a common method used today, with many of our artists here learning from talented family members from a young age.


Clannad are the Irish family group responsible for such timeless music as ‘Theme From Harry’s Game’, ‘In A Lifetime’, ‘I Will Find You’ and the soundtrack to the ‘Robin of Sherwood’ TV series. Over the decades, Clannad have made music that entwines the traditional and the modern, the past and the future, with stunningly beautiful results. With their trademark sound they take near-forgotten traditional Irish songs, often in their native Gaelic language, and bring new arrangements to them creating a unique vocal harmony sound.



The folk music tradition in Wales is among the richest in the world; centuries old, it is as vibrant today as it has ever been. The albums here highlight the best of the current folk scene in the land of the song. There are ‘plygain’ (carol) songs, work songs, drinking songs, hunting songs, and love songs.



The albums featured here are excellent and beautiful collections of magical Celtic music from Brittany featuring a variety of traditional Celtic instruments presented by the most popular groups of the genre.


Cornwall, Isle of Man, Galicia

Explore these enchanting collections of Celtic moods from further afield – haunting uilleann pipes, magical harps, fiddles, accordions, guitars. Beautiful and atmospheric songs, ballads and laments conjure an atmosphere of mystery and magic.


Naxos Music Library WORLD offers an unparalleled experience for adventurous musical explorers
interested in musical diversity from other cultures and countries.

Subscription to the site gives access to a wide range of World music,
from legendary historical performances to contemporary world music.

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Naxos Music Library World’s Features Include:
Almost 10,000 albums (around 110,000 tracks) are available and new albums are added weekly
Recordings of more than 32,000 artists
Representation of over 1,500 cultural groups from 150+ countries
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